wedding registries: what we did right and what we did wrong

gen's perspective:

General Registry Tips:

Make a day of registry shopping with your future spouse. Be sure to eat before you go, because no one likes a hangry groom-to-be who is looking at his fourteenth cutting board option. Go to lunch, talk about the things that you will need for your future home and family, dream a little. Then hit the stores.

When you are shopping in person, pay attention to quality and detail. You will more than likely end up editing your registry online, where you will have many more options and the benefit of other user reviews. That means that when you are spending valuable time in the store, look at bedding, towels, flatware, serveware, and dishware. Spend less time looking at kitchen gadgets and small appliances, because you will probably be selecting a lot of those based on reviews.

Utilize the registry checklists given to you by the store, but keep your own lifestyle in mind. If you didn’t use a juicer when you were single, you probably don’t need one now that you’re married. That being said, you do want to think ahead about holidays and special events you will be celebrating as a new family. If you want to celebrate Pope John Paul II’s feast day every year with a “pope cake,” maybe you want a special cake stand which can also be used for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Kath and I have included some registry tips we learned when making our own wedding registries. We loved the suggestions we received via Instagram, so we have also added some of those favorites below.

WINS:

We did not register for fine china.

I love the idea of china. I love the idea of taking it out on special occasions. I love the idea of passing it down to our children. But when we went to the store to register, there was no setting we liked more than this inexpensive Maison Versailles set. Ultimately we decided against registering for china. We have extra place settings for holidays and in case of breakage, and we use them every day. We also have the additional servingware (platters, vegetable bowls, tiered server), and those are great too. I still love the idea of china, but for now this is exactly what we need.

We had fun with it.

We registered for this unusual Lenox flatware because it reminded us of the Lord of the Rings. I was nervous that I would eventually get tired of it, but NO REGRETS. The takeaway: sometimes just go with your gut. Where will you let your freak flag fly, if not in your own home?

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Board games.

We registered for only one board game (Sorry), and this was a win because one of my favorite people in the world bought it for us, and you know who you are. Board games are also a great way to try to beat your spouse and establish dominance as head of the household.

We did not register for a rice cooker.

Because we have one. It’s a pot.

FAILS:

We did not use a registry service like Zola.

And we should have. You can still register at brick and mortars for the people (grandmothers) in your life who like to purchase at the store, but then you can register for additional items all over the internet.

We did not need two expensive duvet covers.

Luckily for me, only one of the two overpriced washed linen duvet covers we ordered was purchased. I actually do really love it- in terms of quality it’s the tops. BUT. We live in Louisiana. We use our duvet about three months a year, max. We did want an extra duvet cover for when the nicer one was in the wash, so I purchased an especially cute and inexpensive striped number from IKEA. Bedding can be hit or miss- sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes you stumble upon some great options that don’t cost $149.

I hated on salad spinners.

Before our wedding, I distinctly remember telling my friend Mary that we didn’t have the need or the space for a salad spinner. We didn’t register for one. Then I found something unseemly in a salad (I’m not going to say what it was, because I’m still recovering and also I want you to keep eating salad because it’s good for you), and suddenly giving my greens a thorough wash and dry seemed necessary. We bought one after our honeymoon, and while it’s a real pain to clean, I recommend it. Ours is the OXO brand.

You need one of these.

Look, I know, another kitchen gadget. It’s true that sometimes it’s lovely and therapeutic to chop your vegetables, and certainly this thing is not necessary for survival. But sometimes, especially with a sixteen month old holding on to your calves, it’s nice to get it done fast. This thing is incredible. I was hesitant to buy it, because some of the reviews warned that it broke easily, but I’ve been using it for almost two years with no problems. This is a fail because I did not even know about this before I was married, so I didn’t register for it.

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Our knife set was way too expensive.

And go figure, no one bought it. Luckily, my mom found us a perfect knife block which had fewer knives, and come to find out, there are only a couple of types of knives anyone ever needs. Splurge on a good chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a long one with a serrated edge- you will have what you need to do prepare almost anything. Extra knives and gadgets are fun, but they’re not indispensable (unless you find an unmentionable in your salad).


kat's perspective:

Okay, so I’m writing these like they’re commands, but I really think you should just do what makes you happy in the end.  These are simply some tips that I found really helped me get stuff that I loved and avoid stuff I didn’t need.

WINS:

Buy timelessly—I’m someone who doesn’t want to have to change out her stuff every few years simply because it’s no longer in style.  So I went with dishes that were simple and white and glasses and flatware that are basic and timeless.  I will say, I do go back and forth about this one because I see beautiful dishes and glassware at Anthropologie and wonder what I was thinking getting simple white plates.  I also love Gen’s flatware because it looks like it’s out of a fairytale and sometimes I wonder how I got stuck with such boring bland butter knives.  But the reality is, my style is more simple and basic.  So simple, basic, and classic is what I picked, and I'm hoping it doesn't go out of style so I can keep them for a while.

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Register at a less-expensive, easy-to-operate home store (e.g. Bed Bath and Beyond) for basic essential cooking stuff.  I think that the cooking utensils we use on a regular basis really shouldn’t be plated in gold or have fancy designs on them that are prone to being ruined.  Everyone needs metal and wooden basic cooking utensils and somewhat reliable pots and pans.

  • What’s nice about this tip is that old people like to be able to find things from registries in person, so if you are registered at Amazon, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, or somewhere that may not be convenient for old people, they want to have an easily accessible store where they can old-fashioned print out your registry (all 12 pages of it) and find the things they want to get for you in person.  
  • Also, you want to have items on your registry that can be afforded by your friends who are still in school or still not making much money.  I got a bunch of great cookware from seminarians, and it’s the stuff I use the most—easy for them and great for me.

Register for nice towels—here’s the deal:  this is the one time in your life when people want to buy you good stuff—let them buy you nice towels.  We registered for these really plush towels and these are probably my favorite things from our registry.  Go to the store and actually feel them; make sure they’re good quality and super plush.  In the cold months when you don’t want to get out of the shower, it makes the transition easier when you’re stepping into a big warm hug of a towel.  Also, leaving these plush towels out for guests is my favorite part about hosting people at our house.

Register for a slow cooker.  Or an instant pot.  Or both.  We only have a slow cooker but I kid you not, I use that puppy at least once sometimes three times a week.  Mine has stirrers on it so I literally put everything in and leave it alone all day.  It is the best invention next to toaster ovens in my opinion.  Also get a toaster oven.

Register for things you won’t use…?  If you have a lot of wedding guests and don’t need too many things in your house, add things to your registry that you may not use but can easily return and get store credit so that you can buy other things you need that you forgot to register for or realize you need later.  Because sometimes people think that if they don't register for a lot, people will just give them money.  But what'll most likely end up happening is that you'll get one or two checks from people who know what's up and then 4 random types of homemade potholders and 3 different salt and pepper shakers from people who don't know what else to give you.

Register for Corelle and Pyrex.  If not Corelle, get something similar for basic, everyday meals when you don’t need fancy plates.  CORELLE IS BASICALLY INDESTRUCTIBLE so that’s why I suggested it.  Same with Pyrex.  Tupperware is best when it’s freezable, microwavable, and BPA free, in my opinion.  We got about 4 huge boxes of Pyrex, and I love each and every piece of it.

Be careful about how much stuff you add to your registry for “entertaining.”  When you start off married and you’re in a small rental or apartment, chances are, you’re not going to have room for that three-tiered cupcake tray.  But when you’re living a little more luxuriously and have more space, you can easily ask for that for Christmas if it’s still something you want.  Same for ice/champagne buckets, big silver serving trays/platters, and gravy boats (does anyone use gravy boats anymore?).  Unless you already entertain a ton and can see yourself using these, save yourself the cabinet space.

FAILS:

Register at at least one place with good quality stuff.  I didn’t do this because I didn’t even consider a nice store like Pottery Barn as a place where people would shop for me.  But this is the one time in your life that people will get the expensive dutch oven from Williams Sonoma for you, so LET THEM DO IT.

Don’t just get stuff just to get it—we got a cheap comforter instead of a nice duvet cover, and I regret it a lot.  I wish I had thought more about those kinds of things so I wouldn’t have just gotten not-as-nice things just to have them.

I didn’t register for a rice cooker— a friend of Jonathan’s suggested it, to which I responded, “We have a rice cooker; it’s a pot.”  Then I made rice in my fancy pots.  And literally burned it or made it stick to the pan every time.  When I got my rice cooker, my life was changed inherently for the better, and that’s not an exaggeration.  You literally pour rice and water in and push a button and it’s done.  Ask Gen about how she cooks rice, and you’ll receive a text longer than the Summa.  Moral of the story:  get a rice cooker.  (Can you tell that the two of us have heated debates about rice cookers?)

Side note:  I want to mention here how I feel about china.  I think it’s beautiful, and it’s so special whenever china is used at a meal.  I know tons of people who use theirs.  But I also know tons of people who regret registering for it.  If you know you’ll use it and don’t see it collecting dust in a hutch that you will have to buy in order to store it, absolutely register for it.  If you’re on the fence, register for things you’ll know you’ll need and go thrifting for china once you get married.  It could be a fun date idea to see who can pick out the best china for the lowest price or something like that.  That way you haven’t had someone spend tons of money on it for you and you can still have quality china that you don’t feel too precious about.


instagram tips from friends:

Here are the final results of our polls:

Rice cooker- YAY 38% + NAY 62%

  • (This is Kat):  I'll bet Gen was happy about the results of this poll.  Look, all you naysayers have probably just never had a rice cooker, but I dare you to try it.  Seriously, I dare you.  You'll thank me one day.

Fine china- YAY 32% + NAY 68%

  • LOTS of you love china and silver, which is great because neither of us could offer any useful tips on how to choose and/or use it. Those who love it say that for holidays and other special occasions, there is nothing like a lovely china pattern for setting a beautiful table. Some of you like it because it reminds you of “the olden days” and others love it for its hipster resurgence, but almost everyone sees it as a valuable heirloom to pass on to children.

Other registry favorites:

  • A few of you mentioned some great things that we forgot to include: a cast iron skillet, a portable steamer (this thing is amazing, by the way), toaster oven (something Kat's family uses all of the time), good coffee maker, and storage solutions.
    • On the note of coffee pots:  This is Kat here.  We got this coffee pot from Hamilton Beach that does both carafe coffee and instant brewing cup (like K-cups) all in one.  It's really nice if you want easy, quick coffee ready to go in the morning.  We also have a French press for days when we don't mind taking the time for a stronger cup; but I know people really like their Chemex pour over coffee makers too.  The point is, get what you want.  This is one of the things people enjoy buying because they like to imagine you making coffee and drinking it together.  It's cute.
  • One GENIUS suggestion comes from @justmommaandi, who uses cloth diapers as super-absorbent towels or rags. Kath and I actually used cheap cloth diapers as burp rags, but for some reason, it never occurred to us to use them as kitchen towels or cleaning rags. Feel free to put these on your wedding registry (they are THAT good), but if you’d prefer to avoid pregnancy rumors, just buy a cheap prefold set off of Amazon.